The family of Samuel Harrell, the mentally ill inmate whose death at Fishkill Correctional Facility has been ruled a homicide, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a myriad of state employees and agencies.
The 36-page complaint filed late Tuesday includes 11 causes for action against everyone from the state Department of Corrections and Community Services and Office of Mental Health commissioners to named and unnamed DOCCS and OMH employees. The agencies themselves, as well as the state correctional officers union, also are named in the complaint.
Harrell’s death was detailed in a New York Times article last month. Many of the same details regarding the alleged beating he received while seemingly in mental distress are included in the lawsuit.
Fallout from the Times report has included a swapping-out of superintendents at the Dutchess County prison, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office taking on an investigation into Harrell’s April death and now the lawsuit.
Harrell's death is not the only allegation of prisoner abuse in the state prison system.
In August, the NY Times reported that 60+ prisoners at Clinton Correctional Facility have alleged they were beaten, choked and tortured by guards after two inmates escaped from the prison in June.
One of those prisoners was "stared down" by Governor Cuomo hours before he was taken to a closet, beaten, choked and threatened with waterboarding.
Just days before the Clinton Correctional story was reported in the NY Times, Governor Cuomo was given a criminal justice reform leadership award from the Urban League by Hakeem Jeffries.
Since then, 60+ allegations of beatings and one homicide by guards in the state prison system have been reported by the NY Times.
Some leadership on criminal justice reform.
The Harrell Family deserves justice for the death of Samuel Harrell and New York deserves a prison system where prisoners aren't beaten, choked and killed with impunity by the guards.
Alas, what we have under Governor Cuomo is Gitmo on the Hudson.